3 Ways an OTR Truck Driver Can Make the Job Easier

You won’t hear many OTR truck drivers claim the job is easy. But that doesn’t mean it has to be as hard as it seems at times. There are ways to make it better — and more profitable.

OTR truck drivers have only 11 hours each day to drive. The most important part of your job is making the most of them. Whether you’re paid by the number of miles you drive or a percentage of your load, your earnings are always measured against the 11-hour clock. So how can you make your job easier and get more out of each day?

1. Plan Your Load

One of the biggest threats to your paycheck as an OTR truck driver is being late on a load. When you’re late, you typically become a “work-in,” which bumps you to the back of the line. But you can plan ahead and avoid it.

Often, loads are late, or very tight, before you even leave the dock. Your prior load may have taken longer than expected, or you had to deal with a mechanical issue. There’s an endless list of things outside of your control that can set you back.  The only certainty is that you’re the one who’ll pay for it.

When you get your schedule, look at it closely. Check the route. Plan your breaks. If you’re concerned about its timing, let your dispatcher know as soon as possible. A good dispatcher will work with you to get you back on schedule, or give a heads up to the receiving dock. Plan ahead so you can avoid being a dreaded “work in.” One late arrival can cost you hours… or even a full day’s pay.

2. Check Your Equipment

We’ve all been there — sitting (and probably cursing) while waiting for help on the side of the road. Every delay costs you money. You can do your part to avoid that fate, in as few as 30 seconds.

Give your truck and trailer a better walkthrough before you hit the road. The best drivers use a checklist. Every time. Even a quick scan after you stop to rest or refill can catch potential issues before they happen. You’re only as good as the equipment you use. Look for companies that use newer equipment and have a team willing to help you. After that, it’s up to you to maintain it. Your livelihood is at stake.

3. Be Honest

Good dispatchers with a good company can make your job a lot easier — but only if you’re honest with them. Dispatchers have plenty of tools to know if you’re honest about your location or behind schedule. But they can’t know when you’re tired, burned out or dealing with issues that are affecting your job and the company’s bottom line.

Recently, we had one of our best drivers fall behind on several runs. His dispatcher was frustrated. The driver was defensive. It required a chat. Eventually, he admitted he was simply burned out. That’s all I needed to hear. He’s a great driver, so we worked with him to “recharge his batteries.”

The best partnerships are built on trust. If you’re an OTR truck driver who can trust the foundation you’ve built with your dispatcher, you’re on the way to an easier, more profitable career.

WANT TO DRIVE FOR AMX?

You’re in the driver’s seat of where you work — and who you work for. Now is a great time to advance your career as a truck driver. Choose a company that can consistently offer quality work for quality pay — both today and tomorrow.

paul-powell-headshot

Paul Powell, Director of Recruiting, AMX

Prior to joining AMX, Paul owned Powell Transport Solutions, which was purchased by AMX in 2020. Paul’s background also includes owning a financial services firm.